Editor’s Note: This whiskey was provided to us as a review sample by Balcones. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review. It should also be noted that by clicking the buy link towards the bottom of this review our site receives a small referral payment which helps to support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs.
Texans are sticking together in this new release from Balcones Distilling, a collaboration to create Balcones ZZ Top Tres Hombres, named after the group’s 1973 Top Ten album. ZZ Top’s manager, Carl Stubner, said in a prepared statement, “ZZ Top’s love of Texas runs deep and we can’t think of a better way to celebrate that than by creating something together with Balcones. Tres Hombres exemplifies what can be achieved when brands care deeply about their respective products and legacy.”
The whisky was created mid-pandemic, with Balcones Distillery coordinating Zoom meetings with the band to share in virtual tastings, ensuring a truly creative melding of the minds. ZZ Top has said of the expression, “Together, we set out to create a whisky with the foundational grains of Balcones – Roasted Blue Corn, Malted Barley, and Rye. Three distinct whiskies, and three distinct band members – married together to create a one-of-a-kind spirit with Texas-sized flavor. The sum of its parts tells a compelling story, just like the iconic tunes of the little ol’ band from Texas…”
Balcones Distillery began brewing in 2009 in Waco, Texas, and has since striven to celebrate Texas, including using the first Texas-grown malted barley. Their process includes malted barley matured in virgin oak, which can give the whisky the sense of being older than it is.
The interesting aspect of the Balcones recipe is the Blue Corn, which has been said to have a “sweeter and nuttier” flavor when compared to yellow or white corn. Balcones ensures that the blue corn provides “a solid bass layer and an oily body,” contributing to a more full-bodied spirit. The distillery prides itself on a hand-crafted, DIY spirit. They have grown their operation from the ground up, including building their own condensers, wash stills, and other equipment that ensures a uniquely personal, hands-on process.
This tasting provided a kind of challenge, as the profile wasn’t immediately decipherable. But the longer I took with the whisky, the more it opened up for me, providing my palate a complexity that I enjoyed exploring. Balcones ZZ Top Tres Hombres signifies the very nature of the distillery – a pride in Texas and a passion for their award-winning spirits that comes out in a truly delicious whisky.
Tasting Notes: Balcones ZZ Top Tres Hombres Whisky
Vital Stats: Mash bill of roasted blue corn, malted barley, and rye. 50% ABV (100 Proof). $60/750mL.
Appearance: Dark amber, medium viscosity.
Nose: Notes of red delicious apple, buttery sweetness, and fresh greens.
Palate: The whisky stands out as a sweet and mellow expression. Notes of sandalwood, clove, and vanilla shine through.
The whisky offers a balanced level of acidity and a powerful flavor profile. I was pleasantly surprised by this collaboration, as celebrity involvement in spirits doesn’t always pan out. Balcones Distillery is obviously doing something right in Texas!
User Review3.22 (58 votes)
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Jerry Jenae Sampson
Jerry Sampson is a freelance writer, editor and screenwriter. Her creative work is ever improved by her love of whiskey and craft cocktails. She enjoys taking cool fall days to explore the great distilleries around Portland to get a closer look at the inner workings of her favorite spirits.